Welcome to Monday, where Modi loses a key state after COVID backlash, a different cryptocurrency record is broken and the ancient Colosseum gets a high-tech remodeling. Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza also looks at how Poland's long-time right-wing leader Jarosław Kaczyńsk may be losing his grip on power.
• Modi's ruling party loses key state amid COVID surge: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party has been defeated in West Bengal. Campaign rallies and voting have caused a new surge in COVID cases, with daily cases topping 300,000 for ten days in a row.
• Philippines Foreign Minister attacks Beijing over South China Sea: Manila's top diplomat used harsh language to threaten China as the running regional territorial dispute escalates.
• U.S. denies Iran nuclear deal sealed: After Iran announced Sunday that a new accord had been signed with Washington that included an exchange of prisoners for billions of dollars, U.S. officials said "no deal" had yet been reached to halt Tehran's nuclear program.
• Eight more killed in Myanmar protests: Security forces in Myanmar opened fire on demonstrators on Sunday, leaving at least eight people dead in one of the biggest protests against the junta in recent days.
• 26 killed in boat accident in Bangladesh: At least 26 people died and others went missing after an overcrowded boat crashed into a sand carrier. Five people were rescued and sent to the hospital.
• Colombia's president withdraws tax bill: Colombian President Ivan Duque announced on Sunday the withdrawal of a controversial tax reform bill following days of massive protests across the country.
• New floor for the Colosseum: The Italian government has announced a €18.5 million plan to furnish Rome's ancient Colosseum with a new floor. Cultural events could be held there once the floor is rebuilt.
Weekly magazine India Today reports on the country's struggle to save lives amidst the fight against a deadly second wave, as cases approach the 20 million mark.
The cracks in Kaczyński's grip on Poland are starting to show
Poland's long-time right-wing leader Jarosław Kaczyńsk is struggling to appease his coalition partners, raising the possibility of a realignment among the country's various political factions, reports Marek Beylin in Warsaw-based Gazeta Wyborcza.
Jarosław Kaczyńsk of the hard-right Law and Justice Party, the PiS, has long followed one simple rule: "I am Kaczyński and I can do anything I want." He's taken a similar approach with regards to the Reconstruction Fund, as the EU's multi-billion-euro proposed recovery package is called. "We will take the money and do whatever we want with it." These declarations no longer hold the same weight, though, now that Kaczyński's coalition partners are refusing to ratify the Fund. To get his way, in other words, the Polish leader will have to pact with the opposition, but he has no clue how.
During a recent gathering of the conservative Agreement party, one of the PiS's coalition partners, party leader Jarosław Gowin presented a program that landed like a slap in Kaczyński's face: a strong middle class, warm relations with the EU, a friendly separation of Church and State. These are demands that clearly diverge from Kaczyński's program. "This is a further step away from PiS," said Rafał Chwedoruk, a political scientist sympathetic to the PiS party.
Within his camp, there's a growing awareness that Kaczyński can't cope with the crisis of power that he himself created. Recent comments by Józef Orzeł, a PiS loyalist and member of Kaczyński's inner circle, were telling in this regard. "Bit by bit, the PiS party is repeating all the mistakes made by its predecessors, especially those committed by the Civic Platform from the end of its second term," he said. "It's only a matter of time before the opposition reaches its breaking point."
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Norway's second biggest city bans naming streets after men
The southern Norwegian city of Bergen has approved a ban on naming future streets and public spaces after men.
Norwegian dailyDagbladet reported last week that the decision came after a years-long debate over historical sexism, as 9 out of 10 streets dedicated to figures of the past have male names, including the likes of legendary Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen and Olaf Kyrre, or Olaf III, the 11th-century King of Norway credited with founding the port city.
The move has sparked lively political debate in the city of 284,000, with representatives from center and right-wing parties questioning the ban's relevance and legality. To Charlotte Spurkeland, city council representative for the Conservative Party, the ban is a "prohibition policy typical of the identity-political left." Meanwhile, Silje Hjemdal of the right-wing Progress Party suggests the ban could be violating anti-discrimination laws.
Council member Katrine Nødtvedt, who voted for the man, argued that equal representation around public places in the city is crucial in order for girls to "feel they can achieve the same things."
While the ban is considered temporary, meant to stay in place only until full street-name equality has been achieved, there is much work to be done to begin naming and re-naming streets after notable women who are no longer alive. Time indeed to rethink how we look at history.
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Ethereum, the world's second largest digital currency, broke past $3,000 for the first time to set a new record high. The cryptocurrency is now up 325% on a year-to-date basis, compared with 95% for the more popular Bitcoin.
The fate of the country was at stake.
— In an interview with Euronews, Belarus Foreign Affairs minister Vladimir Makei defended the government's crackdown on the mass protests which followed President Alexander Lukashenko's contested re-election in August 2020. Thousands were arrested and members of the opposition went into exile. "There was an attempt at a coup d"état. Therefore, the actions of law enforcement agencies and authorities were absolutely adequate and necessary," he added.